The Nine-Tailed Fox
Episode 1 of Tale Of The Nine Tailed establishes within its first 10 minutes how good this fantasy series may turn out to be. Before the good stuff, we begin with a short introduction to this fantastical world.
When a fox turns 100 it becomes a beautiful woman or male companion. It has special abilities, allowing that person to see far ahead, fly or even shapeshift. After this cut of exposition, we begin with a surprisingly tense and creepy scene from 1999.
A family drives down the road as all the streetlights go off. Consumed by darkness, the car suddenly flips upside down. With her parents lying helplessly in their seats, young Ji A survives. She sees two figures walking around the car who somehow happen to be ghostly apparitions of her parents.
When Ji-A awakens, she’s sitting on the sofa with the pair but something is seriously wrong. They laugh ominously at the news reports for a fire breaking out and forget about Ji A’s nut allergy. Sensing the worst, this young girl stabs her mother (or the woman who looks like her) and rushes into the storage room. She locks the door behind her.
With all hope lost, a mysterious man arrives and tells Ji-A to forget everything she’s seen. As the young girl opens her eyes, she’s back at the crime scene again and her parents are nowhere to be found.
21 years later, a man named Lee Yeon prepares for an upcoming wedding. While everyone else gets caught by a freak downpour, he’s wise to what’s happening. Brandishing a brilliant red umbrella, he marches inside.
It turns out a fox is getting married which is why this is happening. Alone, Lee Yeon speaks to the bride about her blood-thirsty past, eventually allows her to say goodbye to her husband.
Meanwhile, little Ji-A is now grown up and working as a reporter investigating strange occurrences for a TV show. That, interestingly enough, bring them to this wedding.
Only, the informant there bails, leaving Ji-A with little to go on. Little does she know, in the room adjacent from her a big fight breaks out. Lee Yeon shows his frightening speed and fights off this bride who disintegrates into ash.
As Lee Yeon leaves the room, Ji-A catches sight of the same strange man. She recognizes him from her apartment all those years ago.
The wedding has been cancelled and Jae-Hwan is optimistic that this may be the story they’re destined to cover. Checking out the ceremony room, Ji-A notices splashes of blood and signs of resistance. She also spots fur on the gown which belongs to a very rare fox species.
Meanwhile, Lee Yeon gets talking to an inquisitive child who questions him over exactly who he is. It’s a clever back and forth, one that confirms Lee Yeon is waiting for his true love and over 1000 years old. Lee Yeon eventually leaves and heads up to the Afterlife Immigration Service.
This happens to be Lee Yeon’s base of operations and he speaks to his Nanny (Taluipa) about the choice he made in the past. He decided to allow A-Eun’s resurrections in exchange for living as this nine tailed fox.
Just then, Lee Yeon receives a call from Shin-Joo informing of a code red. That comes in the form of “Unveiling Urban Legends” blowing up his picture (or at least of the top of the umbrella) on TV for all to see.
Ji-A is seemingly thrown off the scent of Lee Yeon thanks to a strange 600 year old shapeshifter arriving and concocting a story about seeing Lee Yeon. He phones up our protagonist not long after and requests a meeting.
While he does, Ji-A prepares for – presumably – that same meeting as she sits at a bus stop. In her kind spirits, she tries to help a homeless man outside. As he grabs her leg, Ji-A misses the bus to Yeou Gogae.
After dropping off this man to a tree nearby (following a painful piggyback ride), a taxi arrives. Turning to thank him, the homeless man has completely disappeared. Instead, a strange tiki statue sporting the same cut across the eye grins in the distance.
The bus Ji-A missed crashes on road 144. That same road, as it turns out, Ji-A was on all those years ago when her parents died.
After the accident, only one person survived – a girl called Soo-Young. Ji-A knows Lee Yeon was on the bus though and asks her about it. She shows the picture she has of the umbrella to the girl.
Soo-Young immediately starts hyperventilating, convinced that Lee Yeon’s coming to kill her. Only, this very same man arrives at the hospital and it brings Ji-A into talking to him outside. The two discuss Lee Yeon’s past and specifically the coincidental way he’s shown up at every crime scene since.
Ji-A is clever, managing to catch the man’s fingerprints. However, she’s not clever enough to realize something is wrong with Soo-Young. Not knowing who she is, Ji-A allows the girl to stay at her place for the night.
Lee Yeon drives away from the hospital but talks to Shin-Joo about the TV show. Hilariously, he’s even called out for a comment regarding an inaccurate grim reaper outfit (lovely nod toward Goblin there!)
Lee Yeon arrives at the hospital and learns that Ji-A has discharged the patient. As we soon see, Soo-Young killed everyone on the bus and Lee Yeon was there to stop her. Ji-A is clever and knows something is up with Soo-Young, who suddenly turns into Lee Rang.
Stabbing him in the chest with a shard of glass, she admits to offering herself up as bait. He happens to be Lee Yeon’s brother, Lee Rang. When Lee Yeon shows up, the duo fight across the house as Ji-A watches in disbelief.
Midway through, Lee Rang changes his mind and starts a bet instead. “If you don’t find it by the end of next month then she’ll die.” Confused by what this means, Ji-A arrives and asks Le Yeon for an explanation.
With glowing orange eyes, he seems to hypnotize her into forgetting everything. Only, she clearly hasn’t given she recorded the entire event.
Thanks to his fingerprint scan, the hypnotizing didn’t work and she even has his name. As she suddenly falls backwards off the building, Lee Yeon dives after her. Snatching the girl up mid-flight, she carries her to the ground below safe and sound.
The Episode Review
Tale of the Nine Tailed does an excellent job with its first episode, executing a combination of gorgeous visuals and a really pacing opening set of scenes.
This one wastes absolutely no time getting right to the heart of the drama and in that respect, this feels a little like the first season of Stranger.
There’s some nice nods toward Goblin too and Lee Dong-Wook perfectly captures that blend of drama, mystery and comedy. The fighting is decent and Ji-A’s background is interesting enough to keep you watching.
The entire episode exudes confidence and leaves the door wide open for the rest of the series. Quite what will happen next though, remains to be seen.
|Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!|